Growing Asparagus Pea, also Winged bean

Lotus tetragonobolus : Fabaceae / the pea or legume family

Jan F M A M J J A S O N Dec

(Best months for growing Asparagus Pea in USA - Zone 5a regions)

  • P = Sow seed
  • Easy to grow. Sow in garden. Sow seed at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed. Best planted at soil temperatures between 15°C and 20°C. (Show °F/in)
  • Space plants: 20 - 25 cm apart
  • Harvest in 8-11 weeks. Pick early, pick often.
  • Compatible with (can grow beside): Best grown in separate bed
  • Asparagus Pea plant ( - Magnus Manske - CC BY-SA 3.0)
  • Pod and flower

This low spreading plant has small trifoliate leaves, and deep crimson flowers are borne in pairs. Harvest pods when approximately 2.5 cm (1 in) long. ( about 80 days)

Asparagus pea is easy to cultivate. It needs average moisture, full sun, and ordinary soil.

It needs a long growing season to flower and fruit properly, so start it indoors in cooler areas.

Only the pods are edible for Lotus tetragonobolus.

Not to be confused with the other asparagus pea, the tropical plant Psophocarpus tetragonolobus, also known as Goa bean.

Support with twigs to keep the stems off the ground. Protect from slugs and snails. Pick pods when small as they become hard and dry if left too long.

Culinary hints - cooking and eating Asparagus Pea

Cook quickly by steaming and serve with just a touch of butter and they are said to taste like their namesake .

Your comments and tips

17 Jun 23, Erin Nesbitt (USA - Zone 8b climate)
I live in Texas and it is almost the end of June here. When can I plant these beans or is it too late to plant them now. Would appreciate your response. Thanks.
07 Nov 23, Cynthia (USA - Zone 8b climate)
Erin, I also live in Texas and I’m trying to get more information on growing winged beans. Did you ever get any answers to your question? If you did can you let me know please. Cynthia
25 Apr 22, Susan Peterson (USA - Zone 5b climate)
Your site, and Geri Harrington's book, describe Asparagus pea/winged bean as low growing. But the catalogs and seed packages I have seen speak of it as growing up poles or a trellis. Also Geri Harrington's book ( Grow your own Chinese Vegetables) says it is not so tender as other beans and can be planted somewhat early, before last frost, whereas other sources say to wait until after last frost. I have seed packets for several kinds, red flowered and blue/purple flowered. Can you resolve these issues for me?
26 Apr 22, Liz (New Zealand - temperate climate)
You could experiment with a few of the seeds of each variety and note which are successful.
10 Mar 22, Lori (USA - Zone 8b climate)
What is the depth of roots for asparagus peas? Do they grow well in containers?
11 Mar 22, Anonymous (USA - Zone 5b climate)
Containers just need more attention with watering and fertilising etc.
15 Mar 22, Lori (USA - Zone 8b climate)
Thanks. Do you know how deep the roots go, so I know how big the container needs to be?
24 Mar 22, Celeste Archer (Canada - Zone 7b Mild Temperate climate)
I believe beans (winged beans or winged peas as they are called) are medium rooting depth --> that is 18" to 24". You can go online and search for rooting depth of vegetables and you'll get a table that shows: very shallow, shallow, medium, deep and, very deep rooted vegetables. Where very shallow is under 12" , shallow: 12"-18", medium 18"-24", deep 24"-36", very deep 36+". This is also what they call the EFFECTIVE root zone -- so in reality the plant can go deeper. Tomatoes are deep or very deep rooted (and tend toward the 36+" side) -- but many people grow them in containers that are about 18" deep -- the growth is a bit stunted, but other than that they look fine. So when you see that beans like about 24" of depth, that does not mean you can't successfully grow them in a 15" deep pot. I have found that VOLUME of soil is more important than total depth (it's a bit of a give and take) -- but lets say a 10" deep half barrel would be better suited for winged beans than a 24" deep narrow fluted container. Plants sent out roots to collect the necessities of life; water, macro nutrients (N, P, K, calcium etc.) and micronutrients (boron, iron, zinc etc.) - the roots also provide stability. Beans fix their own nitrogen but still need all the other nutrients and I have found benefit greatly from an application of micro nutrients. Whatever container size or shape you choose you need to ensure all the necessities of life are available for the plant; good aeration in the soil (look at orchid pots if you want to understand really good aeration), enough water, nutrients in a timely fashion. A small pot with little soil volume will need to have nutrition added regularly, as the plant will quickly use up all the supplies available in the soil. Further, I have found that pots with a lot of surface area give me plenty of room to top up the plant with compost or manure -- if you don't have room to top up the soil you need to use liquid fertilizers (like making you own leachate - or buying some commercial fertilizers). I remember when I wanted a container garden (my first ever container garden in the city - having always planted plants directly in the soil as containers tend to be expensive) -- anyhow, I learned the hard way HOW FAST the nutrients get used up in containers -- containers tend to require a lot of amendments (fertilizer) compared to plants in the soil for two reasons: 1. plants in the soil can send their roots out further scooping up nutrients, and using what is already there -- like minerals from rocks 2. nutrients tend to also LEACH out of containers when you water; and you are less likely to leach out your nutrients even in raised beds as you need have "run off" to do so. Hope this helps with your decision on size and shape of your pot !!!
03 Nov 21, Thuy Tran (USA - Zone 10b climate)
Which the best month to grow asparagus pea Can I grow right now?
05 Nov 21, (USA - Zone 10b climate)
March. No.
Showing 1 - 10 of 13 comments

Ask a question or post a comment or advice about Asparagus Pea

Please provide your email address if you are hoping for a reply

All comments are reviewed before displaying on the site, so your posting will not appear immediately

Gardenate App

Put Gardenate in your pocket. Get our app for iPhone, iPad or Android to add your own plants and record your plantings and harvests

Planting Reminders

Join 60,000+ gardeners who already use Gardenate and subscribe to the free Gardenate planting reminders email newsletter.

Home | Vegetables and herbs to plant | Climate zones | About Gardenate | Contact us | Privacy Policy

This planting guide is a general reference intended for home gardeners. We recommend that you take into account your local conditions in making planting decisions. Gardenate is not a farming or commercial advisory service. For specific advice, please contact your local plant suppliers, gardening groups, or agricultural department. The information on this site is presented in good faith, but we take no responsibility as to the accuracy of the information provided.
We cannot help if you are overrun by giant slugs.